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Course Design

Transparent Assignment Design

Transparent design principles encourage instructors to reflect on how and why they are teaching specific subjects and, more importantly, to communicate these choices to their students. In this way, transparent assignment design promotes metacognition, or students’ conscious awareness of the learning process. This type of assignment design is sometimes referred to as “Transparency in Teaching and Learning” (TILT), and the framework asks instructors to explicitly state and explain the following categories: 

  • Purpose. What skills or knowledge will students gain from completing this assignment, and how is it relevant to their education outside of your specific class/context?
  • Task. Detail the steps needed to successfully complete the assignment or activity. Ask yourself whether you are assuming any prior knowledge of your students, or if you have adequately conveyed all parts of the task at hand. You could compose your task as a narrative, a set of bullet point instructions, etc.
  • Criteria for Success. Provide an overview of your assessment expectations. What does a successful version of this assignment look like to you, as the instructor? This might take the form of a rubric (particularly one that students can use to self-evaluate their work along the way) or an example/model of the assignment (use student examples when possible so that students learn from their peers and are not asked to compare their work to exemplary models written by experts in the field).

For more resources, see our Transparent Assignment Design workshop page.